The young, the old and those in-between made use of a unique opportunity yesterday, when the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) hosted an open day at its Green Hill, St. Michael office.
Students from the Welches Primary School, Eden Lodge Primary School and Queen’s College enjoyed tours, while members of the public were able to ask questions, test their consumer rights knowledge and sit in on presentations which focused on utility regulation, fair competition and consumer protection.
FTC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Peggy Griffith, said she was pleased with the turn out and was encouraged by the interaction from the community.
"For the entire day we’ve had a steady flow of the Barbadian public coming to visit us…we do a lot of outreach right now, we have a very aggressive programme where we go out to secondary schools, tertiary level institutions, businesses and so forth to speak about consumer protection issues, [and] competition issues.?? We also have a training programme that we do at the end of every March for the business sector called Competition Law and Policy.?? We do a number of articles in the newspaper and we try to deal with issues that are of importance to the public or to the business sector," she explained, adding that persons could also access vital information, via their website.??
The CEO expressed confidence in their efforts and commented that they were seeing the fruits of their labour, for both businesses and consumers.
"We are doing a very proactive type of outreach which we believe is reaping results, because we are finding that a number of consumers are becoming aware of their rights and responsibilities so they are able to represent themselves when there are issues.?? I think that the businesses are very responsive and they’re very aware of the Fair Competition Act.?? But we do have several instances where businesses would be in contact with us on a particular issue to ensure they’re compliant with the Act," she noted.
Even with these outgoing activities, Ms. Griffith welcomed the opportunity to offer the services of the FTC to other organisations and entities who wished to learn more about their rights and roles.
"…The Commission is very willing to meet with the various groups. That is something we do constantly, so they can call the FTC and we will schedule to come out and meet with their groups….and we also make visits to businesses to talk to their staff," she said.
The Fair Competition Act, which was passed in 2003, was created to promote, maintain and encourage competition, prohibit the prevention restriction and distortion of competition and ensure all enterprises have the opportunity to participate; and the Consumer Protection Act, which was also enacted in 2003, seeks to create an environment free of unfair trading practices for the benefit of consumers.??
Both acts and other legislation are available at http://www.ftc.gov.bb/; for more information, contact the FTC at 424-0260.